Wednesday 18 December 2013

Not in My Back Yard

Suddenly it's winter. On Friday night there was heavy snowfall in the Aizu area and a couple of inches in Koriyama. My friends from Kitakata came over on Sunday to do some Christmas shopping. 'Samui ne', they complained. 'But you've got over two feet of snow' I exclaimed, 'how can you say it's cold?' But it's true - Koriyama is a windy city: add in the chill factor and it is COLD.

A friend in the Shibamiya area of Koriyama was looking forward to getting her house decontaminated (she has two young sons). But the work seems to have got delayed: only a couple of areas of public housing were remediated and the workers have left for the time being. Maybe the weather, maybe budget restrictions. I'll be interested to hear how they explain the process to her and how long they say the stuff they remove has to remain buried in her garden.

With a bit of luck that wait may be shortened with the recent announcement that the government is to buy up land near Fukushima Daiichi and further south near Fukushima Daini for the so-called 'interim storage facilities' which will store radioactive waste from the whole prefecture for the next 30 years. The purchase of the extra land (19 square kilometres in total) should make construction easier and quicker and they're hoping to have them up and running by January 2015. The Minister of the Environment was up here last weekend to negotiate with the local authorities affected. One of their conditions is that Fukushima will not be the final resting place for the waste: that in 30 years time the stuff will be moved somewhere else. That seems a bit optimistic to me. Would they really shift it in 30 years time?

This is nimbyism writ large and crucial to the nuclear power argument. What to do with the waste? No one wants it in their back yard.

I saw in the paper that Koriyama City too is working on a new facility to store radioactive waste. The City has no dumps as yet and the waste resulting from decontamination work all has to be stored on site, in parks, in gardens, in school yards. Apparently the new facility is to store soil removed when they remediate the roads (it's currently buried in parks). The dump is due to open next year, but, interestingly, the City hasn't announced where it is ...
All the best

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